July 19, 2013

New regulations from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) mandate the training of thousands of flight department employees by Dec. 1 to educate them on how to identify and protect themselves from hazardous chemicals used in the workplace.

OSHA has revised its Hazard Communication Standard to bring the U.S. into compliance with the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals. The new standards incorporate new labeling elements and a standardized format for safety data sheets (SDS), which were formerly known as material safety data sheets.

According to OSHA’s website, “All employers with hazardous chemicals in their workplaces must have labels and safety data sheets for their exposed workers, and train them to handle the chemicals appropriately.”

Training provided to employees must include information on the product identifier – the chemical name, code number or batch number as determined by the manufacturer, importer or distributor – on both the label and the SDS. A signal word – “Danger” for the more severe hazards, or “Warning” for less severe hazards – is used on labels, along with a variety of pictograms and hazard statements describing the nature of the hazard(s).

Another element of the training program must address precautionary statements that describe recommended measures to minimize or reduce adverse effects resulting from exposure to a hazardous chemical or improper storage or handling. Labeling on hazardous material containers must include the name, address and phone number of the chemical manufacturer, distributor or importer. Training programs must show how that information might be used, for instance, to ensure proper storage of hazardous materials or to quickly obtain first-aid information when needed by employees or first-responders.

The number and type of hazardous materials used by a flight department will vary widely depending on the size and complexity of the operation, said Marty Grier, a member of NBAA’s Safety Committee, and senior manager of aircraft maintenance for The Home Depot flight department.

But whether it is a small operator that contracts out aircraft maintenance and may have only a few hazardous materials on hand, or a large, multi-aircraft department that performs its own aircraft maintenance and may easily have 150 different potentially hazardous substances in the hangar, Grier notes both must accomplish training for their personnel by the Dec. 1 deadline.

Additional information is available on OSHA’s Hazard Communication website.